January 21, 2023
Chef Juan Lopez is the next cook to be featured as a part of Jose Garces's chef-in-residency program at Volvér on Kimmel Cultural Campus. The Mexican-inspired culinary artist will offer signature courses until Feb. 12.
"I'm looking forward to getting back into the fine dining scene and pushing myself to think creatively," Lopez said. "Sometimes it's easy to get caught in auto-pilot when running your own small brunch spot, and this will give me the chance to challenge myself and showcase the more fine-dining side of my culinary work."
Lopez's menu at Volvér will include French onion soup, burrata, potato gnocchi, pan-seared duck breast, butter-basted scallops, crispy short rib, poached meringue "Fargoias Congeladas," port custard "Pudim" and rice pudding "Arroz Doce."
Garces residency program allows local chefs to increase their profile and visibility. Chefs add their signature dishes to Garces's Portuguese-inspired dishes over four or eight weeks. In addition, each chef-in-residency can raise money as a part of the program to support their restaurants or philanthropy.
Lopez intends to use the money raised during his residency to add a new catering division to his On Point Bistro restaurant in the Point Breeze section of the city and create more culinary jobs. Lopez also intends to donate money to the culinary program at Jules E. Mastbaum High School to pour back into the community.
Volvér, located at 300 South Broad Street, is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., with a special pre-theatre menu served from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and happy hour from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Lopez and Garces had built a relationship dating back to 2000 when they worked together at Alma de Cuba and Amada.
"Chef Juan is not only one of my favorite chefs in the city, but he is also one of my favorite people in the city," Garces said. "On a personal level, he's kind, soft-spoken; just a terrific example of a human being. Personal feelings aside, he's got a huge amount of talent, and I'm so excited to see where he goes with it."
Lopez, originally from Mexico, got inspired to study culinary arts by watching his grandmother cook. However, he didn't get his start until coming to the United States, first to Brooklyn, NY, and eventually to Philadelphia.
He opened On Point Bistro in 2016 and has recently pivoted the restaurant to a brunch and dinner spot.
"While brunch is my current business, fine dining and events is my passion," Lopez said. "I would love to expand into more catering and special events. This opportunity with the residency will help us better market that. Hopefully, it will also help us create more jobs in the culinary field for our local community."
Lopez's menu consists of small plates, entrees, and desserts. Full descriptions are below.
• House salad: artisan lettuce, roasted peppers, cucumbers, onions, feta, crispy chickpeas, Greek vinaigrette
• Cheesesteak spring rolls: ribeye, provolone, caramelized onions, mildly spicy tomato sauce
• French onion soup: beef consommé, gruyere, cornbread croutons
• Potato gnocchi: mushrooms, asparagus, bacon lardons, fontina cheese, herbs
• Pan seared duck breast: stuffed phyllo nest with kabocha squash foam, brussel sprouts, roasted pearl onions, amarena cherry jus
• Butter basted scallop: celery root puree, brown butter lemon sauce, beet chips
• Crispy short rib: creamy polenta, roasted baby carrots, spring onions, blackberry jus
• Pinakbet: eggplant, kabocha squash, okra, long bean, jasmine rice, mushroom dashi stock
• Banana pudding: Vanilla Custard, Caramelized Banana, Peanuts
"My focus for this menu is on food that people will regularly enjoy, not just for special events or fine dining. These dishes are an elevated version of everyday food cravings and some items you can find on our regular and private events menus at On Point Bistro," Lopez said.
Guests who dine at Volvér during the residency can donate to Lopez when the check is brought out. The Garces Foundation will match up to the first $5,000, allowing each resident chef to raise at least $10,000. You can also directly donate to Lopez online.